Maurizio Pollini

Mozart: Piano Concertos, K. 453 & 467

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One hates to admit it, but at this point in his career, pianist Maurizio Pollini is no longer a Mozart player. Although a supreme virtuoso, a passionate intellectual, and a consummate artist, Pollini has grown too brilliant, too intense, and too calculating for Mozart. Pollini's tone is crystalline, his textures are transparent and his tempos are perfect in this breathtaking 2005 recording of the G major and C major piano concertos, but it all seems too cold and too objective. Although he is also directing the Wiener Philharmoniker from the piano, this doesn't seem to encumber Pollini's virtuosity in any way; indeed, he appears to enjoy the challenge, audibly coaxing more force from the musicians' playing. But there's no sense of the elegant play, the graceful beauty, and the serene bliss so characteristic of Pollini's earlier recording of Mozart's A major Concerto with Karl Böhm conducting Wiener Philharmoniker. While one cannot help but admire the blazing genius of Pollini's performances here, one cannot likewise but regret that Pollini's fire burns so cold in so warm-hearted a composer. Deutsche Grammophon's astoundingly realistic sound puts the listener in the fifth row, center keyboard side right next to an overweight Austrian who occasionally shifts in his seat.

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